This episode is entitled “The Workshop,” and after all the rehearsing and dancing and crying and belting, this is the (sort of) finished product that Julia, Tom, Derek and Eileen have to show for it. All the big names and deep pockets were invited to watch this rough draft in the hopes that they would be awestruck and impressed enough to invest and fund the show. Bernadette Peters guest stars as Leigh Conroy, Ivy Lynn’s tony-winning, Broadway-star mother. It immediately becomes clear that Leigh rather enjoys the spotlight and has zero intention of sharing it with her daughter, which has given Ivy a permanent-runner-up sort of complex. But no time to dwell! Ivy’s all hopped up on Prednisone and sleeping pills and she has no self esteem because Derek is an ass and Karen is lurking in every corner and CAN’T A GIRL JUST CATCH A BREAK?! But it’s all ok because Ivy took it HOME in the run of the show (or at least, so I thought) and sounded unreal. Sure, she slipped once or twice, but I thought all in all she was a star. Apparently I was the only one, because Derek further hacks away at Ivy’s ego and the whole workshop doesn’t go over well and the investors are concerned and things just aren’t looking great. Well, for everyone but Karen.
Karen is getting contacted by all these super big recording people and Derek loves her and everything just seems to be unicorns and rainbows. Hooray for Karen.
But I thought the real star of this episode was the writing, mostly for Derek Wills and Tom Levitt, who delivered some of the best lines I’ve heard all season. Here are a few of my favorite moments:
Derek: [on Michael Swift’s son coming to visit] “The child thing never ceases to perplex me.”
Tom: “That’s because you’re a reptile.”
Derek: “…And then the leading lady got SARS. Remember SARS?”
Ivy: “Who knew your gaydar was so stupid?”
Tom: “My gaydar is not stupid! I do not have stupid gaydar. Ugh.”
My hat is off to you, Smash writers, for finally getting it together and delivering some lovely dialogue moments. Bravo.
The other big part of this episode was the rise, climax and denouement of the Julia Houston-Michael Swift relationship. We start the episode with Tom walking in on Julia and Michael hardcore making out like a couple of hormonal teenagers at summer camp, only to find that Ellis has been watching/listening the whole time, like the gross little zit of a human he is. He then runs and tattles to Eileen, who puts him in his place (can I get an AMEN for Eileen?!) but is also now in on the secret. Julia has to leave rehearsal crying when she sees Michael playing with his son and ends their little affair, but Michael is not having it. We reach our climax during the run of the show, when Michael delivers an absolutely goosebump-inducing performance directly to Julia. This is effectively his last performance as Joe DiMaggio as, during the debrief of the workshop, Tom suggests firing Michael in an effort to revamp the show slash save Julia’s sanity and marriage. So, peace out Michael Swift. It’s been real.
Whew! I think this was probably one of the best episodes of Smash to date—finally, some plot progress! And the musical numbers in this show, like the actual music of them, are outstanding. I now have a Smash Pandora station and I love it. I am cautiously optimistic for the rest of the series, given they keep this momentum going. But ya know, as long as there is belting, I will be watching.
Thanks for reading, and as always, thanks for watching KPRC Local 2!